Is Your Business Ready to Work from Home?
Coronavirus Forcing Australian Companies to Work From Home – But Is Your Business Prepared?
COVID-19 has taken the media by storm over the past few weeks resulting in imposed travel bans, recommended self-quarantine and of course the wide-spread closure of offices across the country. With new directives each day from the Australian government to ban mass gatherings, close off borders and stay isolated indefinitely, there’s no signs this pandemic will ease up in the near future.
With that being said, you may find yourself in the same situation as other businesses across the world having to manage a portfolio of employees and clients virtually. You are most likely organising a work from home schedule that may apply for the unforeseeable future, and if this is the case, working around the obstacles that come with managing a remote team are now amplified.
Working from home used to be a perk, with most companies carrying out this policy in an attempt to increase work productivity on various occasions. The reality of the situation is that now, work from home is becoming more of a necessity than a luxury, but what if your company isn’t ready for it?
Luckily, there are quick fixes that can be implemented to your network which can help to enable a seamless work from home policy. It is also important to be aware of potential security risks that allow work from home on unsecured devices. Keeping the lines of communication open with employees when it comes to transferring files and enforcing file backup can make a real difference in the success of your now remote business.
What needs to be in place for teams to work remotely?
The network in your office building is most likely far more secure than that of your employees’ homes. Because of this, it’s important to understand that while working remotely requires your employees to take their work home with them, it doesn’t mean you must accept a loss of total network security. However to avoid a data breach, we suggest you implement a few security measures to protect your company’s sensitive information during this period.
Secure connections, such as VPNs, to on premise infrastructure if required.
Even if you provide your staff with VPN access, a personal computer could still be compromised. There are ways, however, that you can reduce security risks. These include ensuring you have proper measures to verify and authenticate employee login credentials to access a VPN. A good firewall and enforced time-outs for sensitive programs and applications can also help eliminate the risk of hackers.
The ability to take work devices home, so unsecured home PCs are not used.
If it’s impossible for employees to bring home their work devices, consider setting up a virtual desktop infrastructure or provision remote desktop services to help with the setup of this. Create a ‘Remote Access Policy’ for employees so they are aware how work-issued equipment should be treated when working remotely. By doing everything you can to ensure your employees’ homes are a safe environment for work from home, you can eliminate the risk of human error or potential cybersecurity risks. Your corporate IT assets should already have remote access and monitoring on them, so remote support will be simple when required.
Move critical data to a platform like Office 365 in preparation for remote access.
If you’ve been planning to make the switch to Office 365, now’s the time. This multi-factor authentication platform is more secure than other cloud services. Communication systems between staff is going to be ever more important, so systems like Microsoft Teams will keep your employees connected, and accountable to their workloads. The system also includes 30-day backups, cutting down the risk of user error (although for business critical data, we strongly recommend an additional and more thorough backup service).
If you’re not sure how Office 365 works, the IT Department can provide professional assistance with not only the initial migration, but anything else that crops up moving forward.
Can your phone systems be used from anywhere or redirected?
If your business is tied to landline telephones, it may be hard to fathom the idea of work from home. Operating remotely is that much more complicated when you’re running a business that relies on sending and receiving phone calls. Before making the switch, you can easily set up a redirect to a cellular device or home phone that can allow you to send and receive calls anywhere in the country. And as most businesses continue to migrate to VoIP services, it’s also easy to configure softphones via desktop or mobile apps, allowing you the same connectivity as if you were still in the office.
Ensure anything that is tied to desktops is either migrated quickly to the cloud or taken into account.
The easiest way to ensure all your files are backed up and safe is by migrating to the cloud. This migration involves moving all data, applications and IT processes to a cloud platform, therefore allowing users to access resources through the internet or remote locations. If your business is suddenly forced to make the switch to remote work, this is the easiest way to ensure all data is still accessible to employees, while continuing to remain secure.
Does your business continuity plan take remote work into account?
Has your business developed a system of prevention and recovery from potential threats? If not, this is something you will want to arrange as soon as possible. Having a plan of action for a potential security breach, especially if work is being conducted remotely, can help to prepare your business for the worst. The IT Department can help you iron out a contingency plan for your business if a cyber security threat were to emerge by providing unique IT consulting based on your business’ needs.
It’s recommended that you plan a test run where everyone works from home (before it becomes mandatory in extreme situations!). This will quickly tell you what gaps you have, and what needs to be resolved, smoothing out the go-live experience.
How can the IT Department help?
Making the switch to remote work can be challenging, especially when this change is required at short notice. While there are many actions businesses can take to carry out the sudden switch more smoothly, having experienced IT support can make all the difference. During this unsettling time, the IT Department can support your business by providing advice, consultation and deployment on the above factors and any new circumstances that may emerge. Having a support team through these trying times can make a real difference in the success of your remote operation. By sourcing assistance in IT, you can not only ensure adequate productivity from employees, but also keep your network and data safeguarded on unsecured devices from potential threats.